Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: Dream Warriors 30th Jan 13
Oh my goodness, it’s the 80s – the decade that fashion forgot, when the only thing bigger than the hair were the shoulder pads. But some good stuff happened in the 80s, the Slasher movie genre for one blossomed, spawning the ground breaking A Nightmare on Elm Street at what many consider the end of the golden age. We’ve all seen that loads though and we didn’t particularly want to watch the immediate sequel, but after catching Never Sleep Again recently we were all intrigued to revisit the Craven penned (amongst others, including Frank Darabont no less) third in the series. And John Saxon’s in it, he was in Enter The Dragon you know.
And we tried it a little differently this time. Since we’ve all got a bit old in the last almost decade we’ve been doing Zombie Club, we’re finding it harder to get together, so we decided to watch this one from the comfort of our respective sofas, using a popular internet telephone calling application to chat over the proceedings.
So without further ado, at 00:00:01 seconds on the New Line Cinema logo, it’s 3… 2… 1… Play!
Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
Plot Freddy faces the last of the Elm Street kids, who have now developed dream powers. Heather Langenkamp has big hair and John Saxon's in it too.
Jim Dream Warriors opens with a young teenage Patricia Arquette having a dream where she’s being chased by a well known burnt fella with a well known metal claw glove. He catches her and slashes her wrist, only for her to wake up holding a razor, her wrist dripping blood. Then her mum opens the door, and it’s off to the mental home with you young lady!
There she meets a handful of other kids with mental sleep issues and Nancy from the first movie, who’s now training to be a dream psychologist. She pieces together from their stories that it’s Freddy in their dreams, while sporting an ever increasing in volume hair do with a white, Bride of Frankenstein style streak in it. (Night hair on Elm Street? - Zomblee) And she tells them that they’re all the last of the Elm Street children, which prompted much debate amongst us as to the plausibility of all these kids growing up at the same age, on the same street, being committed at around the same time. Hmmm.
Anyway, the rest of the movie is Freddy picking off the kids one by one in their dreams (sometimes in a cool way – like the puppet sleepwalker death, sometimes a bit ridiculous – like the TV death) until the doctor pumps the kids with a sleep drug called hypnocil and exposes them to a pendulum type hypnotist device, whence they all fall asleep, to which Rawshark noted ”Without this there’d be no Inception, this is ground breaking stuff!”
And in their dreams they all have special powers. Kincaid becomes super strong, the druggie one turns in to a slutty looking 80s punk, the geeky one turns in to a wizard and Patricia Arquette gets a stunt double who can do back flips. Then basically they all fight Freddie one at a time, with varying results. The druggie girl goes out quick to the syringe gloves (that’s a pretty cool SFX) but the wizard death is lame, with the geeky guy shouting ”I am the Wizard Master!” while running at Freddy with green magic stuff coming out of his fingers. ”I’ve just typed wizard shit.” offered Zomblee, highlighting this kind of thing as why he never bothered with the Nightmare sequels first time around.
Meanwhile Heather Langenkamp sports that open mouthed big haired slightly worried look she’s so good at, John Saxon gets involved in a subplot regarding Freddie’s bones and that nun keeps turning up too. Is John Saxon going to save the day? Who will surive to the next film? And why don’t you see nuns much anymore, are they all hiding somewhere? Hmmm…
"She was fine until we tried to sedate her."
Rawshark Well, that was easy enough – why had we not done that before? Synching up a film to play whilst we all yak in the background via the Internet was a great idea, and although there were one or two gremlins (i.e. Zomblee and I now don’t know when Jim makes his frequent toilet visits, or the fact that no matter what, there’s no way to successfully synch the TV background audio due to the half second delay on calls – cue much discussion of headphones for future use), it was a huge success. Anyway, on to the film…
The story goes that Wes Craven wanted nothing to do with the first sequel to his block-busting original hit, as he didn’t believe Elm Street was capable of being a franchise. When Nightmare on Elm Street 2 went on to outgross the first film, Craven changed his mind, and although his first premise of having Freddy invade the ‘real world’ was rejected by the studio (although the idea was later used for New Nightmare), he set to work with Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont on the concept of uniting teens into what he termed Dream Warriors (a concept still being used today – see Inception).
Patricia Arquette, in her first ever role, plays Kristen, a teen with latent psychic abilities who finds herself put in a local hospital under the charge of Dr Neil Gordon (Craig Wasson – a poor man’s Judge Reinhold) and Nancy, now a psychiatrist. When Nancy falls asleep in her chair and into Kristen’s dream (why are tricycles used so often in dream imagery?), they recognise Freddy’s coming back, so together with the other teen inmates, decide to "kick this motherfucker’s ass outta dreamland!"
It’s a great premise, and one that held a great amount of fascination when I was younger ,along with similar films such as Dreamscape and The Sender, but watching again over 25 years after its first release, it’s a fumbled opportunity, and one can’t help wishing Craven had taken the helm for this himself instead of handing over to debut director Chuck Russell.
Downsides include some rather lacklustre deaths (c’mon – what’s with the wizard shit?), the over-abundance of 80s styling, which led Jim to an almost unhealthy obsession with Langenkamp’s hair and pearl necklace, and some poor direction and pacing throughout.
That said, model Jennifer Rubin (also her first film role) is very easy to look at whether in a dressing gown or in a bad-ass punk get up, Laurence Fishburne makes an appearance ("back when he was Larry" noted Jim) and the nun provided many a comment from us puerile home-viewers including the observation that you really don’t see too many nuns around nowadays. Plus, you can never fail to enjoy John Saxon, especially here where he gets to fight a stop-motion skeleton AND, as Zomblee put it, gets a post-death appearance "arriving down by little lights". Or as Jim put it, almost in awe, "Ah, the Divine Saxon!".
"Let's go kick the motherfucker's ass all over dreamland."
Zomblee "So this one takes off right after the first film", the ever reliable Rawshark informs us as we delve into the brightly fashioned world of 80s horror. Which of course means that everyone concerned were no doubt pretending that the unintentionally gay sequel never actually happened, so if it’s naked man bums you’re after, you’ve got the wrong movie. Instead what you get is Patricia Arquette in her first acting gig, and she really shines here in a role that appears to be physically challenging and highly testing of her capability to scream her lungs out at every turn. And boy, can that girl scream!
As the guys have already explained, "The last of the Elm Street children" are all confined to a psychiatric facility because of their recurring nightmares involving a crispy faced cretin spewing hammy lines and waving his big steely fingers around like it’s going out of style. In classic 80s sequel style, this is a variant on what Jim Cameron did when he came out with Aliens; a more gung-ho, "Let’s kick Freddie’s ass" sort of attitude which can be quite good fun but also horribly typical of this period of filmmaking.
But at least it has heart, (mostly) progressive ideas and was evolutionary for the Freddie franchise. The subplot involving the old nun and the gang rape that produced Freddie is a wickedly twisted development. "She’s got that crazy nun look down pat", confirmed Jim, and quite rightly so. "You don’t really see nuns anymore. They’re not London-based, are they?" Rawshark offers. I think they’re still around, Rawshark, but maybe in fewer numbers and kept safely behind convent doors, harbouring spooky secrets, flapping about the place and making lots of tea.
As is – and should be – typical of dream-based slashery sequels, the murder sequences are inventive, imaginative, resourceful and quite often very silly. But in an entertaining way, rather than a chilling, dark style, and the grim nature of the 'Freddie’s mum' subplot clashes a little with silly scenes involving Freddie bursting out of the TV with robot arms, quipping "Welcome to prime time, bitch!"
As an ...Elm Street sequel virgin, I was fairly negative about what to expect from Dream Warriors. There's a good reason I avoided these movies, even back in the day, but I think we chose wisely for this very special Zombie Club. The first Freddie movie was a real game changer for a stale subgenre but I’ve never been much of a fan – give me spooky 70s horror over excessively stylized 80s shenanigans any day.
In my notes for this Zombie Club, I’ve written "How does Freddie wipe his arse?", but can’t recall if this is something we actually discussed on the night or whether it’s just a thought that occurred afterwards. He probably uses the other hand, but I prefer to think of Freddie carefully unfastening his deadly knife fingers before sitting down to release untold amounts of evil poo down the WC.
Director Chuck Russell
Cast Heather Langenkamp
Runtime 92 mins
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I don't remember discussing how Freddie wiped his arse, but then again in true Zombie Club style it takes me a while to peace together the latter half of a Zombie Club session, if you know what I mean. It's kind of a mute point though dude, I mean, do dream demons ever take shits? Do dream demons eat? Or even get hunrgy? Do they even have pisses?
Anyway, we cleared away the ash trays, packed our bags and got the last tube home... Oh, hang on, no we didn't. It was our first 'Remote ZC', so at the end of the film we, err, pressed stop and, um, said farewell and, err, that's it. Not as rock and roll as our earlier manifestations, but what is these days?
And, case in point, living in Devon there are nuns all over the shop. Nuns, nuns, nuns, sometimes I can't walk down the street for all the piggin' nuns in the way. Maybe the London nuns have all moved to Devon? And before anyone suggests, no, the London based nuns don't live in Nunhead (have you ever been to Nunhead?)
Tune in next week for God only knows what, but we're quietly confident that Zombie Club is back. And thank goodness for that.
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